Background: The law of legitimacy was received in Singapore as part of the common law through the Second Charter of Justice 1826. Singapore never abolished the law of legitimacy and therefore it remains part of Singapore law.

Assumption: That the deceased is not a Muslim. If the deceased is a Muslim, the Intestate Succession Act 1967 (ISA) will not apply.


An illegitimate child cannot succeed under the Intestate Succession Act 1967

As stated in section 3 of the ISA, a child refers to a legitimate child which also includes any child adopted by court order in Singapore, Malaysia or Brunei.

If a person was born out of wedlock, he is considered to be an illegitimate child. As [the deceased] died intestate, the distribution rules of the ISA would apply. According to the ISA, Illegitimate children are excluded from the distribution of the deceased’s estate when the deceased died intestate (Lim Weipin and another v Lim Boh Chuan and others [2010] 3 SLR 423 at [63] which followed the SGCA case of AAG v Estate of AAH, deceased [2010] 1 SLR 769).


A stepchild cannot succeed under the Intestate Succession Act 1967

In the case of Low Guang Hong David and others v Suryono Wino Goei [2012] 3 SLR 185 at [14]-[18], the High Court held that the definition of “child” under the ISA did not include stepchildren. Therefore, stepchildren were similarly not legitimate children under the ambit of the ISA.

Therefore, a stepchild will not have any claim on the deceased’s estate if he died intestate.